Country music legend Naomi Judd used a firearm to end her life on April 30, her daughter, actress Ashley Judd, revealed to Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America Thursday. She was 76. Judd spoke to Sawyer about her mother’s struggle with mental illness and about her life as a star musician and songwriter.
“My mother knew that she was seen and she was heard in her anguish… When we’re talking about mental illness, it’s very important to make clear the distinction between our loved one and the disease,” Judd said. [The illness] is very real. It lies, and it is savage. Our mother couldn’t hang on, until she was inducted into the Hall of Fame by her peers. That is the level of catastrophe that was going on inside of her.”
Indeed, Naomi Judd, alongside her daughter Wynona, was set to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on May 1, the day after her death. The mother-daughter duo was inducted anyway, with Naomi being inducted post-mortem and Naomi accepting the award on behalf of her mother.
Judd described her mom as a “brilliant conversationalist. She was a star, an underrated songwriter, and she was someone who suffered from mental illness and had a lot of trouble getting off the sofa—except to go into town to the Cheesecake Factory every day, where all the staff knew and loved her.”
Judd revealed the cause of death: “I will share with you that she used a weapon… My mother used a firearm,” to end her life, she said, adding that she was holding back further specifics because she didn’t want the details to become part of the “gossip economy.”
The day of April 30, Judd said, was a “mixed day.” She visited her “mom and pop” as she did every day when she was home in Tennessee. When visiting her mother, “Mom said to me, ‘Will you stay with me?’ and I said, ‘Of course I will.'”
Ashley went outside to let in a friend who had arrived to lend support to Naomi. By the time she had gone back inside and upstairs, Naomi had killed herself.
“I have both grief and trauma from discovering her,” she said. The details of the rest of the day wouldn’t be told, Judd added. “My mother is entitled to her privacy and her dignity.”
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